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The Inside Track | T.J. Simers

Know-It-Alls Know Nothing on Bryant Case

September 03, 2004|T.J. Simers

And they lived happily ever after....

Well, I don't know about Kobe Bryant and the woman from Colorado who has yet to celebrate her 21st birthday, but for those in the media who knew all along what went on in that hotel room, the latest news is already being hailed as vindication.

Just what we need -- further encouragement for sports-talk radio, and in many cases the know-nothing chatterboxes who pass themselves off as journalists.

"This girl should be strung up, or kicked out of the country," said Scott Kaplan, a former kicker and now morning sports-talk show host along with Billy Ray Smith on 1090, after calling her a name Thursday morning that cannot be repeated here. "Think how proud her parents must be to have the town you-know-what."

Kaplan noted that a number of callers and e-mailers to his show, who might have had someone in their families affected by sexual assault, had harshly disagreed with his position earlier.

"These people with all that venom, where are they?" he said, and whereas I think I understand why families affected by sexual assault might possess a little venom, I have no idea why a former kicker would feel compelled to spew it.

"Where are the apologies?" Kaplan demanded in his continuing rant against the woman, and you would have thought someone would have handed him Bryant's apology so he would not have come off looking as if he had no idea what he was talking about.


KAPLAN HASN'T been the only one on talk radio telling us what really happened that night and what this woman has been thinking.

XTRA Sports 690 and 1150 had Vic the Brick Jacobs giving news updates slanted decisively in Bryant's favor -- even though it was "Shaq's station." By the way, look for it now to become Kobe's station.

Name a radio station in town that hasn't slanted the news in Bryant's favor.

There were also newspaper columnists choosing sides early on, and they were no better informed than the talk-radio folks.

Now your basic sports-talk show host is no different from your know-it-all neighbor when it comes to sports -- only the talk-show host has a microphone. I'm not sure I've ever seen Hacksaw Hamilton, Jim Rome or Joe McDonnell in the Dodgers' or Angels' clubhouse, and yet they speak as the voices of authority when it comes to what's really going on with both teams.

As a general rule, most newspaper columnists report to the ballpark and interview players, or at least stand there and allow the players to cuss them out before offering a point of view in print. As a general rule, most talk-radio folks only interview players on the air under suck-up conditions.

In the Bryant case, no matter how they went about their jobs in formulating their opinions, columnists, talk-show hosts and the next-door neighbor knew about the same. No one, other than Bryant and his accuser, was in that hotel room, not even all the Roger Cossacks of the world, yet everyone seems to be an expert.

When it comes to sports, of course, everyone is an expert, but it's usually harmless. There was more at stake here, although that seemed lost on those who make their living "telling it like it is" when for once they should have just shut up.


WEDNESDAY NIGHT we got Jim Gray on ESPN, with both his exclusive statement from Bryant's attorneys and his own exclusive dismissive interpretation of why Bryant would agree to deliver an apology to the woman from Colorado.

"Who wouldn't agree to that? It was a total no-brainer," said Gray, and how lucky you must be if you are Bryant to have a public-relations director working for ESPN under the guise of hard-nosed reporter.

" ... There's no wrongdoing admitted in his statement. There's absolutely no wrongdoing ... he's innocent.

"Anybody with life in prison hanging over their head -- who wouldn't go for an agreement? ... On one hand, let's see, life in prison, or on the other hand, 'I'm sorry,' even though you don't feel you had to say you're sorry."

Gray, now going to the opposite extreme from his criticized approach to Pete Rose earlier, said he had been told Bryant would never pay "this person" a dime.

I know how public-relations directors feel when they are told to tell the public one thing, while the truth is something else. I wonder how Gray will feel if Bryant pays off the woman from Colorado to avoid a civil trial.


... And they lived happily ever after.

ESPN Radio sports-talk show host Colin Cowherd said Bryant's "reputation will be stained forever."

Do you really believe that?

Undoubtedly it's been difficult for Bryant, but if he plays well, his job as resident sports icon will give him a pretty good chance of recovering whatever has been lost in the public eye.

As for the woman from Colorado, I pause here as a father of two daughters, and no matter what happened between Bryant and the then-teenager, I have a little more sympathy than Kaplan & Co.

As Cowherd put it on his radio show, wherever she goes -- her own makings or not -- she's going to be "that girl."

It's also probably safe to assume that wherever Bryant goes, folks are going to want the superstar's autograph.


TODAY'S LAST word comes from a representative for the U.S. women's Olympic gymnastics team:

(Paraphrased) As for the Wednesday night invite to join the girls for dinner -- forget it, the girls are apparently too "tired."

It can't be from eating.


T.J. Simers can be reached at To read previous columns by Simers, go to

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